18th October, 2011
Andy Murrayâ€™s win at the Shanghai Masters confirms he is the man of the moment and marks a potentially decisive watershed as he overtakes Roger Federer in the rankings for the first time.
Victory in China over Spainâ€™s David Ferrer last Sunday was the third consecutive title triumph for the 24-year-old Scot after wins in Bangkok and Tokyo and he is on a 15-match winning streak after his triumphant Asian swing.
As of yesterday, Britainâ€™s Murray will have just Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal ahead of him in the rankings as he targets the year-end No 3 slot, something he has never before achieved.
Federer, absent from Shanghai, will swap places with Murray, slipping to No 4 — his lowest ranking in more than eight years.
The last time the Swiss great was ranked lower than No 3 was way back in June 2003, the month before he won his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon.
That signalled the start of a period of astonishing dominance in the sport during which he held the No 1 position for a record 237 consecutive weeks.
Speaking after his 7-5, 6-4 triumph in Shanghai, an upbeat Murray said his ultimate aim remained to go further than toppling Federer or finishing the year ranked third, which in any case was still not guaranteed.
â€œBut, yeah, I mean, if you finish in front of Federer in a year, then thereâ€™s not many people the last five, six, seven years that have been able to say that. So thatâ€™s obviously a nice thing if I can do it,â€ he said.
Federerâ€™s move down the rankings will give extra ammunition to those who believe the Swiss, 30, has seen his best days and is in gradual decline, with Djokovic, Nadal and Murray all still in their mid-20s.
For Federer, 2011 is his first year without a Grand Slam since 2002. He has won just one title, in Doha.
But Murray said it was too soon to write off his Swiss rival, against whom he holds an 8-6 career advantage.
â€œFor a lot of years everything went very right for him. Heâ€™s had a few tournaments this year where maybe things could have gone his way and they didnâ€™t. Thatâ€™s tough. But Iâ€™m sure next year heâ€™ll be competing. Heâ€™s still playing great tennis,â€ said Murray.
Murray has been as high as No 2 in the world, in 2009, but has never ended the year ranked higher than fourth.